Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Speak, Lord, for Your Servant Listens

I'm taking advantage of falling back. My alarm went off at 7:00 this morning. I got up to enjoy a cup of coffee, and was meditating on the goodness of Community Coffee Chocolate Raspberry when my wife came and reminded me that today was "fall-back" day. I went back to bed, but something kept nagging me to write this...

The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli's direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.
Then God called out, "Samuel, Samuel!"
Samuel answered, "Yes? I'm here." Then he ran to Eli saying, "I heard you call. Here I am."
Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back to bed." And so he did.
God called again, "Samuel, Samuel!"
Samuel got up and went to Eli, "I heard you call. Here I am."
Again Eli said, "Son, I didn't call you. Go back to bed." (This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally.)
God called again, "Samuel!"—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, "Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am."
That's when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, "Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, 'Speak, God. I'm your servant, ready to listen.'" Samuel returned to his bed.
Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, "Samuel! Samuel!"
Samuel answered, "Speak. I'm your servant, ready to listen."
- 1 Samuel 3:1-10, The Message
Like it or not, God still calls to us today. Have you ever taken the time to listen?

God speaks to us when He has something to say. While many will say His only Word is the Bible, I have to disagree - I believe He still speaks to those who will listen. There is so much of His work to be done, and so few workers.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues,
preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
- Matthew 9:35-38, NIV

Since there are few workers, we must all be ready to take orders from our High Commander when He issues them. Our orders may seem to be huge, "Go to the street corner I will show you and preach My word to the lost!" Or, we may be told to do something that seems to be tiny, "Give that homeless guy a quarter in My name." And the callings run the gamut in-between.

Yet, we balk at actually hearing God's voice in today's world. God speaks to us through the "Counselor", the Holy Spirit given to us after Christ's ascension into Heaven. Paul quoted Isaiah 64:4 in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that the Holy Spirit reveals to us the mind of God. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" [Isaiah 64:4] — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" [Isaiah 40:13] But we have the mind of Christ.
Could that have only applied to the "age of the apostles"? Would God have only revealed Himself to us in this way for a short time then shut up as He did during the "400 years of silence" at the end of the non-apocryphal Old Testament? Or, am I just hallucinating?

I think it all comes down to discernment. I do not hear God speaking to me constantly. Either that's because He does not speak to me constantly, or it's because I have ears that do not hear Him. It's only on rare occasions, like this morning, that I hear Him.

People say, "Well, what does He sound like?" I believe you've heard His voice, even if you did not recognize it. His voice is not audible with our physical ears. We hear it in our spiritual ears - our receptive hearts. Yes, I believe we've all heard His voice, even non-believers who are trying to find some sort of meaning in their lives.

  • His voice is that gentle nudge that we feel when a decision to be made. ("Man, I'd really like to buy the new Third Day CD, but I can't afford it.")
  • His voice is the uneasy feeling - even a gnawing in your gut - when we do something we shouldn't have. ("I really should've left a note on that parked car I hit.")
  • His voice is the joy we feel on a rainy day when we sense His presence.
  • His voice is the confidence we feel when we embark upon some mission in unfamiliar territory.
  • And, His voice is the new idea that pops into our head to do something that will magnify His name.
Ah - but how do you know it's the Holy Spirit and not an evil spirit or last night's pizza with everything on it and extra jalapeños? What tells you it's God speaking to you and not a hallucination or just a really bad idea?

Then you look back on His written word. "All scripture is God-breathed." - 2 Timothy 3:16 That means God dictated all scripture to His secretaries (Moses, the Prophets, the Apostles, etc.) and they wrote it down. Divine inspiration and guidance also prevents the Word of God from being corrupted throughout history. So we know it's really God's word. (There are more surviving contemporary fragments of biblical works than of any other ancient work. They compare very well with modern translations.)

So if you feel God's putting it on your heart to divorce your spouse so you can marry that new hot neighbor, read scripture. It'll tell you otherwise. This is called "discernment". Wisdom and knowledge of scripture will help you to understand the will of God.

Do you want to hear God speaking to you? Here's how you do it:
  1. Read your bible. All He asks is that you read it. Start with a couple of minutes a day. You'll find that it's fascinating reading, and you'll work your way up to bigger chunks.
  2. Pray. Talk to God. Tell Him what's on your heart. Lift up those who need His intervention.
  3. Listen to what He tells you. When you talk to God, don't monopolize the conversation. Give Him a chance to talk, too.
That's really all there is to it.

Get into the habit. Start reading His word. Fill your day with His presence. You can do it, even if you have a job or are a stay-at-home parent. Start with five minutes a day. Read the bible for one minute. Pray for two. Listen for two. That's all He asks. Before you know it, your prayer time will have ended and you will want more. Ask Him for the wisdom to understand what you read and hear. Ask Him for the confidence and strength to do what He wants you to do. And ask Him to give you peace when you take on His work.

Thanks for listening.

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